Finalists at the first attempt, history-making double winners, a lace at the top table in Europe in every sinle season of English participation and five finals so far, Tigers have a record the rest of the UK would kill for in the northern hemisphere’s top competition.
Any failure though (i.e. being eliminated in the group stages or, if you’re particularly anti-Leicester, not winning it every year) is highlighted and questioned.
It’s called being a victim of your own success. But we live with it as Leicester supporters and the club would not have it any other way. This is a place that likes to be judged on high standards. One of the reasons Tigers are able to make significant signings and re-signings of players is the potential to enjoy a run to a sixth final.
Tigers have been kicked where it hurts by our critics and our rivals a number of times in recent seasons when we’ve been knocked out in the group stages, by the likes of Leinster and Toulouse in 2008, Clermont and the Ospreys in 2010, and Clermont and Ulster last year. As a reminder, Toulouse reached the final in 2008, Ulster did the same last year after overcoming Tigers early on.
The Tig makes no apologies and remembers the massive disappointment each time the Heineken Cup run ended without a knockout head-to-head chance.
After all, deep down, we all expect Tigers to be able to beat anybody any time.
But The Tig would make one request. While we’re pointing at those disappointing years, let’s not forget the seasons on either side.
In 2007 Tigers reachd the final and found it was maybe one game too far in the pursuit of an historic Treble, losing at Twickenham.
We got to the final again in 2009 when, Rocky Elsom aside, there was little to separate Tigers from a Leinster team on an upward charge.
There was a quarter-final in Dublin in 2011, lost by seven points to a team who went on to lift the trophy. Through the pain of defeat The Tig can still recall the incidents when Alesana could have scored in the corner, when Ed Slater looked within reaching distance of the tryline, when we yelled all day at the referee to clear out the breakdown.
Now Tigers are back into the knockout stages. Toulon present a massive hurdle, certainly, but they’ll also be looking at the pedigree of our team, our players, our supporters. Our record in Europe bears comparison with just about anyone, but don’t be bullied into thinking it’s something in the distant pass.
All we need now is for someone to make up their mind where the game will be played. Allez les Tigers.